Great sadness, of course. Novak Djokovic knows he missed out on a great moment in history on Sunday when he lost in the US Open final to Daniil Medvedev. A defeat which deprives him of the calendar Grand Slam, but not of the “wonderful” feeling of having won the hearts of the public. After the meeting, the Serb was torn between these two feelings.
What emotions went through you towards the end of the match and after?
There were many. At the end it was a relief, I was glad it was over because the preparation for the tournament and everything I had to deal with mentally and emotionally over the last two weeks was a lot. At the same time, I felt sadness, disappointment, but also gratitude for the audience and for this special moment that was reserved for me. Of course, part of me is very sad. It’s hard to swallow, this defeat, when you know all that was at stake. But on the other hand, I felt something that I had never felt in my life here in New York. The audience made me feel very special. I wouldn’t say I was expecting nothing, but the amount of support, energy and love that I received from the viewers… It is something that I will remember forever. This is the reason why at the time of the last change of sides I just cried. The emotion was so strong. It’s as strong as winning 21 Grand Slam tournaments. That’s how I felt, in all honesty. They touched my heart. This is the kind of moment we cherish. Yeah, it was just wonderful.
In the Roland Garros final, while Stefanos Tsitspas was leading two sets to zero, you said you thought that if you made the break, you could win the match. Did you have that hope today?
It was different because my feelings on the court were not as good as in Paris. I lacked energy. There was an opportunity before, at the start of the second round. I have break points, I was very close. Who knows what would have become of the match? With the support of the fans, I probably would have felt different. But Daniil was amazing. All the credit goes to him. He was the best, mentally, in his approach to the game, in his game. He deserved to win. As for me, I know that I could and should have done better. But that’s sport.
Alexander Zverev, gold medalist in Tokyo, Medvedev now crowned in Major, do you think that a period of transition opens at the top of tennis?
It has already started, with Dominic Thiem’s victory last year. The transition is inevitable. The old ones are still hanging on. We always try to shine the light on the tennis world as much as we can. But this generation is not new, it is current. They’re going to take over and I think tennis is in good hands, because they’re all nice guys and very, very good players.
Have the previous matches caught up with you today physically?
Possible. I spent more hours on the court compared to Daniil. But the period was also very emotionally trying, these last 5 or 6 months, between Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Olympic Games (where he lost in the semi-final). Everything had to line up for me, unfortunately I didn’t manage to take the last step. But I must be proud of what I have accomplished this year, there are still three Grand Slam victories and a final. Other challenges await me. I have learned to overcome these kind of tough defeats in the Majors, the ones that hurt the most. I will try to learn from it, learn, be stronger and keep moving forward. I still love this sport and I still feel good. As long as there is this motivation, I will keep running.